Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - May 2016

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

#NationalWineDay National Wine Day Organic Wines

5 Organic Wines to Help You Celebrate National Wine Day

WineGlass

Happy National Wine Day!  If you are looking to celebrate with something that is not only pleasing to the palate, but pleasing to the planet, we have 5 great organic wine recommendations:

 

Hall Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
Although it doesn’t say “organic” on the bottle, according to Good Housekeeping Magazine, the vineyards were certified in 2010 and the wine-making facilities received California’s first LEED Gold-certification.  The dark garnet color is beautiful with hints of boysenberry, cassis, anise and semisweet chocolate.

 

Bonterra Pinot Noir
This nicely priced organic gem hails from the vineyards that are not only certified organic, but practice the spirit of organic.  “The spirit of organic is a proactive approach that places us in tune with the vines and the land, observing their cues and anticipating what they need,” says the company’s website.  This particular Bonterra wine was a Wine Enthusiast’s Editors’ Choice winner for its nice balance between “assertive flavors, fresh acidity and full body.”

 

Champagne Leclerc Briant Brut Reserve
If you’re looking to splurge on some bubbly, try this rich and fresh selection.  Champagne Leclerc Briant began using organic farming practices in the late 1940’s and received organic and biodynamic certifications in the 1980’s.  The tiny bubbles are filled with a rich fruitiness that will leave a “long, velvety finish.”

 

Chateau Maris La Touge Syrah
From organically grown grapes to natural compost to recycled glass and paper (even the labels are made from recycled material!), this sustainable wine delivers cherry and berry aromas and is the perfect pairing for steak and hard cheeses.  We recommend picking up two bottles—opening one today and the other on May 27th to celebrate Languedoc Day, the region of France where this vineyard resides (thank you, Reverse Wine Snob for the heads-up!).

 

DeLoach Vineyards Pinot Noir Rose
According to allwomenstalk.com, this rose has been rated as the top wine for summer—making it the perfect wine to share today and during your Memorial Day Weekend celebrations.  Bright and fruity with some hints of spice, this reasonably priced rose hails from California’s Russian River Valley.

 

Now that you have celebrated with a bottle are two, keep the green living going by upcycling your bottles and corks.  Click here and here for some great ideas!

 

Talk to us:  What wine will you be drinking to celebrate National Wine Day?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Quinn Dombrowski

 

Housecleaning tips Weird Cleaning Tips

5 Really Weird Cleaning Tricks

Mayonnaise

We love finding new uses for products and ingredients we already have in our homes–especially if those “new uses” leave our homes clean.  From mayonnaise shining up your faucets to newspapers tucked into your fridge, here are 5 weird cleaning tricks that really work:

 

Add Newspapers to Your Fridge
The folks at Real Simple suggest tucking balls of newspaper into the corners and drawers of your fridge overnight to soak up the strong odors that sometimes lurk in small places.  For odor prevention, use sheets of newspaper to line drawers, replacing every two weeks.

 

Put Kool-Aid in the Toilet Bowl
While Kool-Aid is a great treat on a hot day, it can also be used to get rid of hard water deposits and stubborn toilet bowl rings. Diana from Anyone Can Decorate recommends sprinkling a generous amount of lemonade flavored Kool-Aid powder in your toilet bowl.  After the mixture sits for awhile, simply brush down the sides and flush.

 

Shine Faucets with Dryer Sheets
Instead of throwing away your used dryer sheets, use them to put a shine on metal faucets.  Simply add a little of water to the sheet and scrub with “the tiniest bit of elbow grease,” says Raye from Thoughts by Her.  And, because the sheets are often anti-static, you can also use them to do a quick dust of your furniture.

 

Remove Watermarks with Mayonnaise
Who knew the popular sandwich condiment could be so helpful around the house.  Put a small amount of mayonnaise (or toothpaste) on a damp cloth and gently rub away the watermarks from a wooden surface.  Mayo can also be used to put some shine back on your plant leaves.

 

Clean Your Walls with Bread
According to Michelle from HuffPost Home, a piece of semi-stale white bread works just as well as brand name “erasers” when it comes to cleaning marks off of your walls.  Simply remove the crusts from the bread and roll it into a ball.  After wiping down the wall with a soft cloth, rub the bread over the mark until it disappears.

 

Talk to us:  What is the weird cleaning trick you use?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Julia Frost

 

Container Trees Gardening How to Grow Trees in Pots for Your Patio Patio Landscape

Tips for Growing a Patio Tree

Container Trees

Today is “Love a Tree Day” and while we encourage you to head to your nearest green area and hug a trunk or two, we wanted to take this opportunity to give you some tips for growing a lovely tree of your own.

Many of our readers live in small spaces with even smaller outdoor areas, making it difficult to add a little nature to their urban dwellings.  However, we have found some great tips for growing a tree of your very own right in your own backyard… or back patio, back deck…you get the idea.

Here are 4 things you should consider when you are going to plant a patio tree:

 

Size Matters
“Smaller species and dwarf varieties of standard species are good candidates for containers,” suggests Oregon State University Extension Service.  This can include a number of evergreens and deciduous trees (click here for some options) along with citrus trees, which also work well in a sunny indoor spot.  In addition to the size of tree, make sure the pot you use is the right size as well.  Look for pots that are about as wide as they are high—clay pots are better for keeping trees stable during windy conditions.

 

Use the Right Soil
Soil from your garden or yard does not always work in containers—it usually doesn’t drain well and is more prone to weeds and insects.  Gardening Know-How suggests using soil-based compost, it is available at most nurseries or you can use your own mixing your compost with potting soil and sand (click here for tips on summer composting).  Every spring, refresh the soil by replacing loose, dry topsoil with compost-enriched soil.

 

Consider Drainage
Regardless of the tree or container you choose, you need to make sure water has a place to go.  Look for pots that have numerous holes big enough for the water to drain out.  If your pot only has one hole in the center, drill at least four more around it.  We also love “self-watering” containers like these from Gardener’s Supply Company.  In addition to reducing your watering chores, these types of pots are great for those who have an upstairs balcony or patio—it keeps water from dripping on your neighbors below.

 

Patio Placement
Tree roots tend to dry out more frequently when planted in a container, especially during the summer months.  In addition to making sure you are watering your trees on a regular basis, pay attention to where you are placing the pots.  Heat from the pavement or excessive wind can cause soil temperatures to get too hot or dry.  Place your trees in a sheltered location where they get the right amount of sun and shade.

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite kind of tree to grow in a container?

 

Clean Up Your Room Day Getting Organized Mess Maker Organizational Tips

What Kind of Mess Maker Are You?

MessMaker2

 

In honor of Clean Up Your Room Day (yes, that’s a real holiday you and your children can celebrate!), we wanted to share some tips for discovering exactly what kind of mess maker you are.  Why is this important?  If you know what kind of mess maker you are, you will be able to create an organizational system that actually works with you—not against you.

Which definition fits you best?

 

Memory Maker
If this is you, your space is filled with things that bring back wonderful memories: trophies from your middle school tennis championship, pictures your children drew for you, a scrap of paper with a kind note left on your windshield. While memories are great, these physical items are making it hard for you to keep an organized space.  Consider taking a photo of each item and creating a digital photo gallery (tutorial here) or creating a “Memory Box” for each family member—only ONE box per person.  If the box gets too full, you need to edit the contents.  A great idea for the personal “Memory Box”:  give it to the individual when they get their own place, a thoughtful gift that also helps clean your room.

 

Busy Bee
While we are all busy people, some people are just too busy to organize.  If this is you, your desk is probably filled with papers that need to be signed, calendar appointments that need to be entered and an email box overflowing with unread messages.  For you, convenience is key—make sure paper is nestled by the printer, pens and paperclips near your “to do” box and items that need to go with you when you leave (i.e. keys, sunglasses) always land in the same spot.  At the end of each day, clean out backpacks and bags by a recycling bin—getting rid of things you don’t need, acting upon things that need to be done and delegating things that need to go to others.  Once you get in the groove with this, it will only take you a few minutes each evening.

 

Too Lazy to Organize
There is this great quote from Albert Einstein:  “Organized people are just too lazy to go looking for what they want.”  You may think your lack of motivation to get and stay organized is a sign you are lazy, but in fact, not being organized is causing you to use more energy each and every day.  You don’t need to do a lot to be organized—simply follow these three rules from master organizer Annette Reyman: Capture, Calendar, Contain. Keep a notebook with you at all times and capture everything—from requests to ideas to deadlines.  At the end of each day, put all of the items you “captured” into your calendar.  Finally, create a very easy-to-use system of containers for all of your physical stuff.  For example, have a basket for mailing material, another for office supplies and another for bills.  You’ll know just where to find what you need when you need it.

 

Neat Freak
You are the lover of labels, boxes and color-coded filing systems.  A day at The Container Store is like a day at Disney World for you and your home is organized to perfection, but could it be too organized?  Absolutely says professional organizer Lorie Marrero.  If the time, money and energy you are “investing in the process” isn’t paying off in giving you more time, money and energy in life, it may not be worth it.  Do a quick inventory of your organizational systems and make sure you are not wasting your time (or money).  Two areas Marrero finds common organizational errors:  transferring all pantry items into matching plastic containers (you are spending more time transferring than it takes for your family to eat the contents) and creating folders by vendor (i.e. phone company) instead of by date (“the time it takes to parse each bill into the proper vendor folder rarely pays off”).

 

Talk to us:  What kind of mess maker are you?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Neil Winton

 

DIY Mother's Day Gifts Flower arranging Flowers Mother's Day

Create Your Own Flower Arrangement for Mom

Mother’s Day is the second largest flower-buying holiday and while you may be tempted to just run to the nearest florist to pick up an arrangement, we encourage you to make your own–after all, moms love gifts that their kids make, no matter how old those kids may be. If you think flower arranging seems too daunting a creative task, try one of our easy ideas for making simple flowers simply stunning–just like your mother:)

 

samecolorChoose a color and stick with it. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the color palette of your arrangement, but once you choose one, pick flowers and buds in the same color wheel. This eliminates the fear of trying to coordinate various colors in one vase. Select different shapes, sizes and plant types to ensure an eye-pleasing final product.

 

 

 

 

BottleVaseRethink the vase. Take a peek in your china hutch or kitchen cabinets–they are full of bowls, mason jars, pitchers and other household containers that can do striking double duty to hold your DIY arrangements. Reuse antique food cans to add a pop of color and old glass bottles for bud vases.

 

 

 

 

symmetryForget symmetry. Years ago, folks took flower-arranging classes and learned the criticality of symmetry in floral design. Those days are over! Once you’ve chosen your vessel, get a block of floral foam and soak it for a few minutes before placing it inside. Use bigger blooms and leaves to create a flowing silhouette and then fill in with wispier flowers. Allow one side to be airy and trailing, while keeping the other dense and lush.

 

 

 

 

Same VaseGroup it. Instead of focusing on one large arrangement, create several small ones to display next to each other in a group. Using matching vases, consider color, size and type of flowers and keep all but one of those attributes the same. For instance, choose three identical small vases and fill with Gerber daisies of different colors. Or fill with different white flowers that are similar in size. Whatever you choose, get creative and have fun.

Talk to us: Did you try your hand and creating your own arrangement for Mom? If so, we’d love to see it! Upload your picture in the comments below.